As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

There is Order After All

A friend of mine is often saying that God is a God of order, and that makes total sense to me.  But for a long time I have had a hard time planting that reality in my life.  Among my friends, my home is the least orderly.  I have the biggest family and the most boys, and our home looks like nine people live here!  For not a small amount of time I have felt the burden of this lack of order and wondered, if it's true that God is a God of order, how do I live peacefully in a life that seems so lacking in it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Patience and Waiting

Advent could not have come at a better time for me.  Of course it comes around every year, the four weeks before Christmas.  But I have been in a particular funk really for a long time, and for me this season is an opportunity to search for the coming of the Saviour in the midst of all the chaos that seems to accumulate despite my best efforts to keep life peaceful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When Babies Don't Sleep

My little guy is almost 1 1/2, and thankfully sleepless nights are now a fairly rare occurrence. Every now and then though, I have a night that brings me back to that first year, when he never slept consistently.  It was so frustrating!  But living through that year with him has given me invaluable tools for coping now when we have a night that's out of the ordinary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My Prayer Following the American Election

It is the morning after the election, and Donald Trump is President.  I never thought I would see this day, and I had great fears about it.  But now that it has come to be, for me I think there is only one way - and that's forward.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What I Want to Say About the American Election

This is not a post about who I think people should vote for.  I'm not an American, so I can't even vote.   But over the past few months I, like much of the world have been following the election coverage.  And I've talked about it - a lot. I have strong opinions, like probably most people, because this is a very polarizing election.  A lot is at stake, especially for religious people.  This is not a post about who you should vote for, or who I would vote for.  It's about how you treat people who do not share your political views.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Two or Three: When Nobody Else Comes

In our area of the world, active adult ministries are severely lacking.  This has been a huge cross for me and many in our group of friends, who grew up with a strong, active youth group and prayer group, and many opportunities for retreats, conferences, and social activities to share our faith.  Many of us have been frustrated that as we grew into adulthood, the fervour that guided our activities as youth has waned or in some cases disappeared all together.  I am not unlike many others, who have felt a desire for the community of long ago.  I and several other people at different times have tried to start new groups aimed at adult ministry, and most of them have a lot of interest in the beginning but that interest gradually fades.  It is so discouraging to remember where we came from, or to see friends in other faith communities thriving and flourishing and wonder, why don't people commit?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Empathy in Parenting

My little guy has been temperamental this week.  He's just getting over a bad cold, complete with sore throat and ear aches, and so mid-morning meltdowns have been common. He's also very adventurous, and given his disposition this week less than patient with our constant efforts to keep him safe. Two days ago from about 11:00 am on he just cried.  He did not want to be picked up or consoled or fed, just to cry.  It is a scene that has been on repeat for the past week, and with so many other activities filling up our day it can be quite frustrating.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Your Kids Are Great (so cut them some slack)

I took my kids to the dentist last week.  Since there are 6 who see the dentist plus me, this usually takes an entire morning in the dentist's office.  I always feel like wherever I go with them I bring the chaos, and am always extra sensitive to even their tiniest indiscretions.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why I Go to Daily Mass (Even When I'm Late)

A few years ago I was so inspired by a fellow homeschooling Mom who took her kids to daily Mass every single day.  She was quick to point out that this was because in this particular season of life it was what worked for them, and to emphasize how important it is to pay attention to seasons where things like that will work (and seasons when they most likely will not).  That was some of the greatest advice ever given to me because it helped me to get daily Mass on our radar, and also gave me the comfort I needed when I couldn't make it happen - if I just acknowledge that in this particular season it is not working, I don't need to feel guilty about not going (nothing sucks the grace out of devotion quite like guilt.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Music, Christianity, and The Tragically Hip

"Mommy, is this song Christian?" my daughter often asks.  Much of the music we listen to is by Christian artists, even if it doesn't necessarily fit the "Christian" genre.  Sometimes we'll be listening to an artist that identifies as Christian but the lyrics are not overtly religious, and so she'll ask.  And I always respond to her that God created us for joy, and that even if an artist or a song isn't necessarily Christian, if it moves our hearts and brings us happiness then it is indeed Christian, because Christ is in beauty - in it our hearts are drawn to Him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fitness Goals and the Post-Baby Body

My secret guilty pleasure is the celebrity babies section of People Magazine.  Whenever I have a few minutes here and there I like to pop onto their website and read about the newest celebrity baby.  Reading their adventures in parenthood is always fun for me as a parent, because it's one way I feel like I can relate.  And I mean, come on - babies!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Teach Me To Pray

This past week has been really grace-filled for me.  In terms of activities we were booked solid and I was on the go more than usual. And yet within that busyness God seemed to provide opportunity after opportunity for me to meet Him in prayer, which was surprising because I always think I don't have time.  I always have the best intentions, and yet far too often the end of the day comes and I realize that I really haven't taken any quiet time with the Lord.  So I rattle off a few prayers as I drift off to sleep, and hope to do better the next day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life Hacks for Big Families

I was hanging out with friends the other day when one of them asked me what some of my best life hacks were.  I was like a deer in headlights, frozen in front of this woman who was looking for pointers from me.  Clearly she has the wrong idea about me, haha!  I am not organized, my house is in constant disarray...I have nothing to offer in the area of home maintenance! And yet so many times since that day as I go about my daily life, I realize that I have picked up a few tricks over the years that have helped me to manage my home somewhat better.  Don't get me wrong, my home is always cluttered and things are very disorganized!  But in case it is helpful to anyone else, here are a few things that help keep us from the brink of disaster (at least some of the time!)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Modesty and Respect for Self and Other

I posted a few days ago about femininity and an experience that God used to affirm for me the goodness in being made a woman.  There was much discussion following that post about beauty, modesty and our responsibility for being good stewards of our feminine beauty, and it has really had me thinking the past few days about what modesty means, and why it is important for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Screens, Self-Governance, and Monkeys on your Back

Screens can be a tricky subject for families.  On one hand I don't think anyone can deny their adverse effects on modern children, especially if you have a child with a particular disposition to want to be on them all day, all the time.  In a lot of ways I suppose it would be easier to just not have any technology in the home, to avoid the constant fighting, the back and forth, and the occasion for temptation.  It's a subject each family needs to discern for themselves, how they are going to relate to technology and, more importantly, how to raise children who know how to be a part of a world where technology is a reality without completely losing themselves to it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

That time I wore a bikini at a Catholic Vacation

This is a topic I am certain will be at least a little controversial, and many may not share my views - and that's okay.  But it is something that has been with me since my vacation last year, and I want to share it because I believe the Lord is bringing about conversion in my heart - about femininity, about masculinity, and about how the two genders coexist. Prior to last summer for me that relationship was marred with shame and fear - shame that, like many women of religious conviction, showing any part of my body that might be attractive to anyone but my husband is a bad, bad thing, and that holiness means covering all of those parts and never allowing anyone but your spouse to even see a hint of your feminine body, lest they be lead into temptation.  And fear that in general men were wired to look at me with lust, to possess me and my body, to take advantage and misuse and bring harm.  I am certain that a lot of this was just my own misinterpretation of what I thought chastity and purity mean, but my concept of this was blown wide open last year, and the fruit of that has been a true freedom and confidence in being created in beauty as a woman.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Good Teachers

I have been blessed to have the best of both worlds when it comes to schooling my kids.  I homeschool them, of course, but I also have been able to take advantage of programs at several schools, public and private, that have really taken their education and enrichment to the next level. I often think that for a homeschooling family, we spend a ridiculous amount of time in schools! You might think that because I homeschool I eschew the public school system all together, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I don't know much about Kanye West

I don't know much about Kanye West, other than what I occasionally read on the celebrity babies section of People Magazine (because I'm a sucker for celebrity baby news!)  But this morning when I saw a headline about Kanye's nearly eight minute rant on Ellen, I was curious and I watched it.  And here are my thoughts.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fasting. It's Not So Bad.

Last Sunday my son casually mentions to me, "it's Pentecost Sunday, today's the last day of Easter."  "No," I thought, "is it over already?" I generally fast throughout the year from many of my most favorite foods, but a few years ago I started living Sundays and feast days as true feasts.  I don't fast from anything but instead I feast, and connect my love of good food to the Lord, and the specialness that certain days and seasons have.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

You Must Have Been Praying For Me

One of my boys has a problem with being easily distracted.  He could sit at the kitchen table with his books for an entire day and hardly get anything done, because every little fancy that pops into his mind causes him to run off in search of the wonder it has sparked in his imagination. He is content almost to a fault in that regard, and I have spent many years wondering just how to get him to be able to focus when it is necessary.  It's not that I am always looking to stifle his imagination - on the contrary.  I admire it, and the outlook he has on life.  I often say I want to be like him when I grow up!  But as a parent I want to help teach him that there are times when it is okay to indulge your imagination, and other times when it is important to maintain your focus, even if that takes work.

Monday, May 2, 2016

When I Was a Child

"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

Jesus has been really great in making Himself available to me in the last few months, and it has really been beautiful.  Where once I lamented the fact that it was not easy for me to get to Mass or adoration with the kids, God has gradually been showing me there are many opportunities to spend time with Him as a family.  I have been discovering Mass times I didn't know existed in the regions where my kids have their activities, more and more churches that are open in the daytimes, and even have had a key to a parish provided to me simply because I asked when it would be open for prayer.  I am completely amazed at God's generosity in meeting me where I am in my life, and each new discovery has made me feel like a child opening a gift.  It really does feel like the Lord is opening up the Heavens and coming directly to me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Good Priests and Being Filled

I'm not sure what it's like in your diocese, but in ours it's not uncommon to hear tales of gloom and doom over the uninspired state (for lack of better words) of its clergy.  To be fair when I say this, I don't mean that everyone is that way - we have a number of priests who are indeed living very faith-filled lives, and whose liturgies and homilies reveal this.  But the general impression has been that these priests are few and far between.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Overall Improvement

My baby has the most hit or miss sleep schedule of any of my children.  It is not uncommon for him to sleep for a week or two straight and then to start waking through the night for the same amount of time (or more).  Parents crave routine, and no more so than at night.  Sleeping through the night is one of the things we measure ourselves against and with good reason - a good night's sleep can make or break you.  So it's not surprising that we feel great when babies are sleeping and lousy when they're not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I love my kids, and I like them too

I read an article last week about a celebrity who did an interview on a late night show talking about her kids, and the crazy antics they get involved in.  She said (jokingly of course), that you love your kids, but you don't always like them.  And even though it was only a joke, something about it struck a nerve in me. I've met people in real life who have said the same thing and it wasn't a joke.  And I've been an angst-ridden teenager who really, honestly believed at one point (even though I'm sure it wasn't true) that one of my parents loved me because they had to but probably didn't like me very much - and it was painful.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ambassadors for Christ

This has really been a grace-filled week for me.  I mentioned in my last post that being awake with my baby in the nighttime helped me to recognize my own need for conversion, to handle those situations I think I can't handle with my older children.  That feeling of "I can't do this" plagues me not just in the middle of the night with my sweet baby, but also (and honestly more profoundly) with my five-year-old, who continues to act very high strung and babyish.  I find myself short tempered and very impatient, in no small part due to the fact that he has two other "babies" behind him.  I get overwhelmed when the full size (and volume!) of him is bouncing around, pulling on me, rolling on the floor and shouting like his two younger siblings at times when I need everyone to be quiet, and the fact that my attention is divided already between a toddler and a baby compounds the pressure for me.  Nowhere is this more true than at Mass.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Midnight Lessons

So my current baby is the worst sleeper I've ever had and I have to admit, it's pretty frustrating. Night after night I put him down really never knowing if he'll sleep through, if he'll wake up once, or if he'll be up all night.  I watch friends with babies the same age and even younger who are all sleeping with no issue, and I compare my little guy to my own six children before him and it's easy to think, "what are we doing wrong?"  I've tried all the sleep training methods, all forms of comfort giving, even nursing doesn't work.  And my nightly pep talk, that this too will pass and someday he will sleep, is starting to lose its effect.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Goodbye, My Good Friend

2004 was a big year for us.  In May we moved into our house, in June our first son was born, and in July we got a puppy.  And while all of those things made me feel like a grownup, in a lot of ways getting my own dog was really what made me feel truly like an adult.  Like a lot of families we had dogs only up to a certain point, and after that began the years of begging our parents, "pleeeeeeease can we get a dog????" (which maybe we've just entered?  Jury's out on that, haha!) And so high on my list of grownup things to do, right after buying a house in the country and having a baby, was to get a dog.